DEPT. OF DEFENSE by Stephen Rzewski Vul: E-W matchpoints North (dummy) ♠ K8743 ♥ J10 ♦ 1065 ♣ K72 West (you) ♠ 952 ♥ 985 ♦ A84 ♣ 10853 bidding: E S W N 1♥ 2♦ P P dbl P 2♥ 3♦ P P P opening lead: ♥ 5 Often when you are defending, the opponents are typically playing with the preponderance of high-card strength, and your assets may be meager. Under such circumstances, one can easily lose interest and concentration. It may be essential, however, to focus on the few values you have and try to make the most of them. Today’s hand came from a Regional tournament in Sturbridge. Imagine yourself defending with the West hand on the auction shown, and the play starts: trick #1: ♥5 from you, 10 from dummy, queen from partner, ace from declarer. trick #2: ♥ 3 from declarer, 9 from you, jack, king from partner. trick #3: ♥ 7 from partner, 4 from declarer, 8 from you, ♦5 (ruff) from dummy. trick #4: ♦ 6 from dummy, 3 from partner, jack from declarer, and you play…..? How do you plan the defense from here? Decide before reading on. * * * * * * * The full deal: North ♠ K8743 ♥ J10 ♦ 1065 ♣ K72 West East ♠ 952 ♠ AQ10 ♥ 985 ♥ KQ762 ♦ A84 ♦ Q3 ♣ 10853 ♣ J64 South ♠ J6 ♥ A43 ♦ KJ972 ♣ AQ9 You must duck your ace of diamonds. Partner’s play of the third heart, encouraging the ruff in dummy, and the play of the trumps suggests that declarer’s suit is broken and that partner may have the queen. If so, your 8-spot may have some potential in a trump promotion, but not as long as the 10 is in dummy. Ducking the ace will also help to clarify the hand generally, as you will have a better idea of the layout of the hand based on declarer’s next play: whether or not the trump suit is broken or solid, where partner’s black-suit values lie, and so forth. At the table, declarer did in fact play a club to dummy’s king, then led the 10 of diamonds: queen from partner, king from declarer, ace from your hand, leaving the following: ♠ K8743 ♥ ----- ♦ ----- ♣ 72 ♠ 952 ♠ AQ10 ♥ ----- ♥ 62 ♦ 8 ♦ ----- ♣ 1085 ♣ J6 ♠ J6 ♥ ----- ♦ 972 ♣ AQ It is now easy for you to lead a spade, on which declarer plays low from dummy, and partner wins the queen. Partner plays a heart (alternatively, partner could have cashed a 2nd spade first), and declarer is cooked. At the table, declarer discarded her remaining spade loser, but this was easily countered with a discard from your hand. Partner, still on lead, continued with his last heart, and your 8 of diamonds is promoted to the setting trick. If declarer ruffs high, you simply discard; if declarer ruffs low, you overruff. Notice that if you had won the ace of diamonds on the first lead of the suit, the trump promotion would not have been achieved. Say you had chosen to win the 4th trick and then led a spade to partner, who could take two tricks in that suit with the ace and queen. The defense would then have been finished. A heart play from partner would have done no good, as declarer could ruff low, and if you overruffed with your 8, dummy would be able to capture that trick with the 10, which would still be unplayed at that point. Declarer would then simply get back to her hand and draw the remaining trumps with the king, making her contract.